Mobile Technology

Hands on with ZenFone 2, Asus' 64-bit value phone

Hands on with ZenFone 2, Asus'...
The ZenFone 2 looks like it's among the best smartphone values announced at CES 2015 (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
The ZenFone 2 looks like it's among the best smartphone values announced at CES 2015 (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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The ZenFone 2 has some of the design echoes of other leading smartphones (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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The ZenFone 2 has some of the design echoes of other leading smartphones (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
A 5.5-inch HD IPS display gets the job done (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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A 5.5-inch HD IPS display gets the job done (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
Curved back and a top-mounted power button here (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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Curved back and a top-mounted power button here (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
The ZenUI lock screen (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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The ZenUI lock screen (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
The ZenFone 2 looks like it's among the best smartphone values announced at CES 2015 (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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The ZenFone 2 looks like it's among the best smartphone values announced at CES 2015 (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
The ASUS camera app is loaded with effects (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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The ASUS camera app is loaded with effects (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
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Asus announced its ZenFone 2 Android handset at CES 2015 this week. It's a solid flagship phone that really only has two features that make it stand out from a crowded field of smartphones, but they're arguably the two most important features.

First, there's the processing guts of this phone, which is a 2.3GHz 64-bit Intel Atom processor with either 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM, making the top-end ZenFone 2 about as powerful as many laptops. Second is the highly competitive pricing that places this phone among the best value smartphones available. ASUS says the ZenFone 2 will start at $199 without a contract for a model with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage.

That makes it an even better value than the $179 Moto G from Motorola for a new, more powerful phone shipping with Android 5.0 Lollipop, a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, 13 and 5 megapixel cameras and a fast-charging 3,000 mAh battery. Phone makers seem to be upping the ante with fast-charge technologies every few months, and Asus is no exception. The system in the ZenFone 2 claims to enable recharges to 60 percent battery level in only 39 minutes.

There are echoes of the HTC One M8 in the ZenFone 2's metal body design, with curves tapering to thin edges that define most of the top smartphones of the past year. It feels nice and light in the hand and the 403 pixels per inch of the display is bright and vivid enough. It's covered in Gorilla Glass 3 and an "anti-fingerprint coating" that is supposed to reduce friction and make it feel smoother as you slide your finger across it using the collection of "ZenMotion" gestures, one of the handful of not too intrusive tweaks to Android in Asus' ZenUI.

The ASUS camera app is loaded with effects (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)
The ASUS camera app is loaded with effects (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)

We didn't spend enough time with this phone to definitively say that the touch of this display was as "luxurious" as Asus claims, but that means that its implied superiority wasn't immediately obvious either.

As we said at the outset, little besides the price and a few key specs really make this phone stand out. But $199 is a great price for an off-contract phone with a 64-bit processor and the option to future-proof the ZenFone 2 further by upgrading to 4 GB of RAM.

At the same time, Asus also announced another phone for photophiles, the ZenPhone Zoom, which basically just gives a major upgrade to the rear 13 MP camera, adding a 3x optical zoom.

Specific details on dates of availability were scant, but the ZenFone 2 will need to roll out soon if it is going to remain nearly as great a bargain as it seems to be right now.

You can watch the full Asus CES press conference below.

Source: Asus

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7 comments
Danimal
It's too bad Asus products only work for about 8 seconds. Otherwise, this would be pretty exciting.
Joel Detrow
Sounds like someone regrets getting a new phone for Christmas ;)
Noel K Frothingham
As long as they are the right 8 minutes....;:)
DaddyHoggy
So this mobile phone is considerably cheaper and more powerful than my 2yr old Asus (1015PX) Netbook?
Although the screen is physical smaller it's much nicer and HD too - so I'm wondering if, with a decent Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, I could write my next novel on something like this, given I managed to write the first one on the aforementioned 1015PX.
The Wizard
Every few months............The paradigm changes. When will they be free and have quantum computing? 2017?
StWils
Does it have the correct Star Trek "chirt chirt" communicator tone installed?
Tommy Wu
The price was release today from 4990 TWD (167 usd) and up. Check out this video for the Zenfone 2 event in Taipei today. www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAr21oaPjQQ